MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — The South Carolina Farm Bureau Federation opened its 76th Annual Meeting in Myrtle Beach Dec. 5, highlighted by a number of awards and a State of Farm Bureau address from SCFB President Harry Ott.
Nearly 800 Farm Bureau members from across the state gathered not just to prepare for the year ahead, but also to celebrate accomplishments of volunteers and progress made in the General Assembly. More than 100 individuals were recognized for their dedication to SCFB at this year’s convention.
South Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers greeted attendees Thursday night at the Government Relations awards dinner. He spoke on the importance of farmers and agriculture in our state. Dr. Milt Lowder, Founder and CEO of Synergy Group, delivered the opening session keynote address Friday morning, sharing concepts for a sound mental approach to cultivating your fertile soil and leveraging best practices to face today’s many challenges. Followed by a presentation from Dr. Kevin Folta, Horticultural Sciences Professor at the University of Florida, who discussed communications strategies to engage consumers effectively when having conversations about biotechnology in today’s society.
South Carolina legislators Senator Harvey Peeler (R-Cherokee) and Representative Jeff Johnson (R-Horry) received 2019 SCFB Legislator of the Year awards for going above and beyond in their duties to support family farmers in South Carolina through key legislation. Both legislators have been dependable supporters of Farm Bureau, leading the way for agriculture, agribusiness and family farmers at the statehouse.
Eight individuals were named the 2019 Government Relations All-Stars for their progressive advocacy of SCFB’s priority issues in the General Assembly. They were Marion Barnes (Colleton), Eddy Ellison (Greenwood), Megan Floyd (Horry-Conway), John Fogle (Richland), Doug Hollifield (Oconee), Jacob Oswald (Allendale), Anthony Ward (Florence) and Landrum Weathers (Orangeburg). Each received a clock representing the time they dedicated to the work of Farm Bureau.
Phil Britton (Florence) received SCFB’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award, as the highlight of the Awards and Recognition Program. Britton has given greatly to SCFB through his many years of dedication and volunteerism to agriculture in South Carolina.
Tracy Woodard (Darlington) took home an EZ-Go Golf Cart, $500 in STIHL merchandise and $250 cash after winning the SCFB Young Farmers and Ranchers Discussion Meet. Woodard competed against nine other contestants in a face-to-face discussion about agricultural issues today’s farmers are facing.
Two farm families – Samuel and Lindsay Hall (York) and Justin and Maggie Ables (Oconee) – were named finalists in the 2020 SCFB Young Farmers and Ranchers Achievement Award Contest. As finalists, each family received a check for $1,000 compliments of the Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company. They also have the opportunity to win $33,750 toward the purchase of a new Ford truck.
Finalists for the SCFB Young Farmers and Ranchers Excellence in Agriculture Award were also announced. They are Clint and Katie Moore (Greenville), Nicole Yon (Saluda) and Blake Stevens (Horry-Loris). The finalists will be competing for the opportunity to win $500 cash and $7,000 toward the purchase of a Polaris ATV.
The contest winner for both the Achievement Award and the Excellence in Agriculture Award will be announced at the State Young Farmers and Ranchers Conference in Charleston, S.C. in February. State winners also have the opportunity travel to the 2021 American Farm Bureau Annual Convention in San Diego, California to compete nationally against other state contest winners. The SCFB Young Farmers and Ranchers awards are made possible through generous donations from SCFB, Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company, Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company, STIHL, Garrett’s Golf Cars and Specialty Vehicles, and Ford.
Each year, one South Carolina educator receives the Betty J. DeWitt Outstanding Educator Award. This year Erin Wood, a teacher at West Oak Middle School in Oconee County, received the award plus $1,000. The award is presented to a teacher of grades K-12 who has designed and implemented a lesson plan about the food and fiber industry.
The annual meeting came to a close after the business meeting of the South Carolina Farm Bureau Federation, where two individuals were re-elected to positions on the organization’s Executive Committee, including SCFB Coastal District vice president Timmy Benton (Colleton) and SCFB Pee Dee District vice president Keith Allen (Dillon).
–Lauren Prettyman, SCFB